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7 Cycling Trails In India That Are Your Answer To A Cheap Vacation

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Out of the many things that I miss about my childhood, my evening cycle ride around the neighbourhood is certainly what I miss the most. Summer vacations meant going out for long rides with friends, racing on occasion, and finally, stopping for some orange ice candy before heading back home. Oh, those were the days!

But who says cycling is only for kids? Sure, the responsibilities, time constraints, and traffic get in the way. And city life doesn’t quite give you the chance to relive those childhood memories, but a vacation certainly can. Next time, while planning a holiday, ditch the clubs and luxury hotels, and instead choose a nature trails to explore on two wheels!

India has some stunning locales that should be discovered at leisure. Not in a rush, or with a touristy checklist, but with one intention only — to cycle while admiring nature in all its beauty!

1. Leh-Ladakh

Obviously, Ladakh had to be no. 1 on this list. Wide roads, with mountains all around, and skies that define what a gorgeous blue is, every part of Leh-Ladakh is different from the other. So, each time you visit, you will have a different trail to explore. The most popular of the lot is the route from Manali to Leh. If you’re feeling adventurous then, the Zanskar Valley route is for you. Cheap homestays and friendly locals are just the cherry on the top. The only downside about cycling around Ladakh is that you need time, and by that I mean, a good 20 days to a month.

2. Coorg

Down South, Coorg is the perfect weekend getaway from Bangalore. The lush greenery makes for a gorgeous backdrop while you navigate the easiest, most peaceful cycle ride ever! Cycling along acres of coffee plantations, stopping for a freshly brewed cuppa or a delicious picnic breakfast in the middle of the jungle… sounds like a dream, no? But this one is possible to experience IRL.

3. Shillong

The whole of the North East actually can be discovered biking around. It is certainly heavy on the pocket to reach there, but exploring the mesmerising towns won’t be a problem. Especially, the routes that have mountains on both sides and just a narrow road running in the middle. Shillong is called the Scotland of India for a reason. Just ensure you join a cycling group there as renting cycles can be difficult.

4. Goa

When people say Goa, they often imagine scooters or motorbikes breezing past them, not caring about the traffic rules. This time, do something different when you go to your favourite beach town. Stay a little longer but discover Goa slowly and not drunk. The road from South Goa to Panjim is a dream to ride on, and you wouldn’t want to miss it all while speeding on moped, would you?

5. Kerala

If you decide to go South, then Kerala is your safest bet if you’re looking for a great cycling experience. The Nilgiris are a blessing to explore on foot or on cycle. Turn it into a quick camping trip for the real adventure. The monsoons are the best time to witness this beauty, but winter is just as great! So, if I were you, I would book my tickets asap.

6. Spiti Valley

I’ve met a lot of travellers till date, and all of them rave about the beauty of Spiti! It is a narrower extension of Ladakh, so the routes are tougher, but definitely prettier. Valleys on both sides, and mountains as far as your eyes can see… who would not want to cycle among snow-capped mountains?

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I wouldn’t be too embarrassed to admit, I have only learnt cycling last year and even though I wobble sometimes and make unnecessary jump offs at junctures, I am in a permanent exhilarated state of mind every time I get an opportunity to ride one. I have been secretly wanting to visit Pondicherry ever since I came to know how cycle friendly the town is and ever since I’m here, the mornings and evenings have seen a fair share of an overjoyed human humming songs and smiling crazy on a bicycle. That being said, I’ve already bruised my knees at a village in Auroville falling off the cycle while trying to ride an extra-heighted one on an extremely sandy road and have already frowned upon the fact how it wasn’t my fault but then again, it’s never our fault, is it? 😛 The bruises that attacked humanity during childhood are paying me visits now and honestly I don’t mind them much as long as I get to paddle my way across streets, ecstatic and nervous, smiling like a kid and humming lyrics of songs that I never get right. To amateur riding skills that nowhere hinder the unadulterated love for bicycles.

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7.  Pondicherry

The gorgeous French town is so small that you will be able to cover all of it on bicycle in just about 2 days. Stop at tiny cafes, sip on coffee, grab some breakfast and pedal on to newer journeys. The colourful lanes will keep you company, and you’ll get enough and more Instagram-worthy pictures.

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Hauterfly's Lifestyle writer and resident Potterhead. In love with boxes, diaries, food, and conversations. Always in a state of fernweh. (Don't know what that means? Search the site for more!)

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